Only as free as they're allowed to be

30th April 2010 at 01:00

Why all the fuss about parent-run schools? ("Free schools: a better education for all, or a panacea for pushy parents?", April 23) If any government wants to allow a self-selected group of parents to run a school funded wholly by taxpayers, it could do so at a flick of the legislative wrist.

Just a line or two of legislation would permit a form of school where the local authority is excluded and parents form a majority on the governing body. That self-perpetuating parental majority could then appoint the head and enjoy such "freedoms" from the statutory requirements imposed on other schools as the schools secretary of the day chose to give them.

Presumably, like academies, these schools would be wholly funded by, dependent on and accountable to the schools secretary. If anything upsets the governors, the parents not on the governing body, or the community the school serves, there is always a right of appeal. To whom? To the schools secretary, of course. "Free" schools are government schools, though some of their proponents seem not to have understood this yet.

Sir Peter Newsam, Former chief schools adjudicator, Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire.

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